Live Long and Prosper?


Deprivation in Scotland continues to be the determining factor in life expectancy rates as men born in the 10% most deprived areas within Scotland could expect to live 13 years fewer than those in the 10% least deprived area. It is not much better for women with a gap of 9.6 years of a difference.

For many areas in Scotland life expectancy has fallen slightly or stalled – for Orkney it is approximately 80 for men and 82 for women. These are some of the highest rates in Scotland in contrast to some areas in Glasgow where it is projected to be 72 for men and 77 for women.

Although Orkney is a low wage economy with the highest rate of fuel poverty there are other factors which determine a healthy life. Life expectancy in more rural areas across Scotland is higher than in the more densely populated urban areas.

Looking at other countries illustrates the complexity of what goes into life expectancy. For instance the average life expectancy in the countries that make up the UK  are:

  • Scotland: 77.1
  • Wales: 78.4
  • England: 79.5
  • Northern Ireland: 78.5

and for comparison with EU countries it ranges from the highest Sweden at 80.4 to Lithuania at 69.2.

And worldwide

Scotland’s National Records office will be producing a wider range of statistics in 2019 which perhaps may throw more light on why life expectancy rates have stalled and why Scots are less likely to live as long as many of our nearest neighbouring nations.

fish and chipsSuccessive Scottish Governments have introduced a wide range of legislation and promoted campaigns towards a healthier lifestyle – minimum unit pricing for alcohol, smoking ban in public places, early detection of cancers. There is a complex mixture of other factors: diet, poor housing, mental health and not so much lifestyle choices but lifestyle opportunities which poverty and lack of access prevents many from being able to take advantage of.


Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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